S&P 500 ends down as Apple dips and traders eye Powell speech

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By Shreyashi Sanyal and Noel Randewich


(Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended down on Tuesday, with losses in Apple and Amazon ahead of an upcoming speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that could provide hints about magnitude of future interest rate hikes.

Investors also focused on recent protests against COVID-19 curbs in China, including at the world's biggest iPhone factory.

Apple's stock dropped 2.1%, down for a fourth straight session.

Powell is due to speak at a Brookings Institution event on Wednesday about the outlook for the U.S. economy and the labor market. Investors will be looking for clues about when the Fed will slow the pace of its aggressive interest rate hikes.

"No one is willing to buy ahead of tomorrow with Powell speaking. Everyone is nervous about what he is going to say," said Ron Saba, senior portfolio manager at Horizon Investments in Charlotte.

Shares of Amazon, Nvidia and Tesla each lost more than 1%.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is headed for its second straight month of gains in November amid bets that recent inflation readings showing a slight cooling in prices will lead the Fed to scale back the scale of its interest rate hikes.

The Fed has delivered four straight 75 basis point rate hikes, and it is expected to shift down the pace to a 50-bps move in December. [FEDWATCH]

A survey on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer confidence eased further in November amid persistent worries about the rising cost of living.

Mainland China's recent wave of civil disobedience comes as the number of COVID cases hit record daily highs and large parts of several cities face new lockdowns, further threatening the world's second largest economy.

The S&P 500 energy sector index rallied 1.3%, while gains in oil prices on expectations of a loosening of China's strict COVID controls were later offset by concerns that OPEC+ would keep its output unchanged at its upcoming meeting.

The S&P 500 declined 0.16% to end the session at 3,957.60 points.

The Nasdaq declined 0.59% to 10,983.78 points, while Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.01% to 33,852.13 points.

Despite the S&P 500's decline, advancing issues outnumbered falling ones by a 1.3-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted three new highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 68 new highs and 183 new lows.

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Pinduoduo Inc and JD.com Inc jumped more than 5% after China broadened equity financing channels for property developers.

Shares of Chinese internet firm Bilibili Inc soared 22% after posting upbeat quarterly results.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was relatively light, with 9.6 billion shares traded, compared with an average of 11.2 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Shounak Dasgupta)

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